As a Minority Business Enterprise we couldn’t agree more with Forbes magazine .. “A well-defined, inclusive and positive corporate culture is the glue that binds an organization and its employees.” This is a great article on strengthening an inclusive and positive culture. #workingtogether #newnormal #flexibility
#upskilling #humanskillsmatter #futureofwork #workplaceperformance #togetherwecandomore #TheBayenWay
Why A Positive Company Culture Is Especially Critical Today
Diversity and inclusion have never been more important to emphasize than today. Racial and social injustices continue to plague our communities and divide our society. The landmark Supreme Court ruling that protects gay and transgender employees from discrimination puts additional focus on the necessity of equality for all.
These events have fueled questions around a company’s role as a corporate citizen, and professionals are assessing whether their employer’s values align with their own. In response, leaders need to strengthen their role as influencers of their organizational culture.
A well-defined, inclusive and positive corporate culture is the glue that binds an organization and its employees. And it needs extra attention right now for many companies.
This may be especially true if your organization and its leaders:
- Have failed to focus enough, or consistently, on strengthening and promoting an inclusive corporate culture
- View corporate culture as something employees must adapt to, not help shape
- Are not listening to employee concerns, opinions and expectations
- Think a strong culture is built largely on compelling perks and in-office amenities — like game rooms, catered lunches and yoga classes
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The first three issues, in addition to contributing to a weak or even toxic company culture, can cause employees to worry that the business is at risk of a cultural crisis. A pre-2020 survey of workers by United Minds and Weber Shandwick found that 30% were already concerned about this possibility when asked how likely they feel it is that their organizations’ leadership will be accused of significant wrongdoing, sexual harassment or racist behavior, endangering health, cheating customers, or financial wrongdoing.
In the past, many people thought of corporate culture primarily in terms of the perks and in-office amenities listed above. These pale in comparison to a workplace whose leaders prioritize creating an environment where teams can collaborate effectively when split between working remotely or in the office and where all feel welcome and valued no matter what their personal background.
Even if you feel you already have a sound organizational culture, here are five ideas to consider.
1. Identify And Reaffirm What Makes Your Organization A Great Place To Work
Think about what attracted people to your company originally. Perhaps your organization has a particular focus on innovation, work-life balance or learning and professional development. Or maybe your company has always considered diversity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace a top priority, by focusing on efforts like pay equity and making diversity hiring, development and promotions a priority.
One would think that work-life balance may be less of an issue since so many employees are at home 24/7. But the closeness of spouses and kids being confined to the same location day after day can get in the way of meaningful time spent together just as much as a daily commute can. This means you’ll have to adapt your policies to fit the new reality. For example, encourage your team members to maintain structure in their day and provide the flexibility to let them do that while taking care not to overload them with work. Employees will appreciate working for a company that understands how situations have changed.
Reaffirming your organizational culture and showing your willingness to come up with creative ways to support it sends a strong message that your company has your employees’ best interests at heart.
2. Document The Vision, Share It And Invite Input
Some companies already have a corporate culture statement that describes, in a straightforward way, the company’s goals and values, and how people in the company will be treated and are expected to behave. Now it’s time to revisit it to ensure its messaging is relevant for the times.
Make a point in your document to talk about corporate culture as a living thing, and not just an abstract concept. Then point out ways some of your policies are changing while remaining true to the original aspects of your organizational culture. For instance, perhaps the statement needs to emphasize the importance of team collaboration more strongly than before.
In sharing the statement, also explain how the senior leadership team is still focused on your underlying values as it works to adapt to the new normal. Describe how the firm’s core beliefs and corporate culture provide the foundation for the changes and difficult decisions the business has made and is making.
3. Create Opportunities To Promote Personal Connection
Remote workers may be communicating with their teammates more than ever through email, text, phone, video conferencing and other collaboration tools. But that doesn’t mean they are finding time to interact as people — engaging in the type of relaxed conversations about their lives and interests that they would have had organically in the office. Yet these are the kinds of interrelationships that help build camaraderie between coworkers — and a more cohesive corporate culture.
Schedule some time before, during or after team meetings for employees to share personal updates if they choose. Video conferencing is ideal for this since everyone can see each other — but audio-only conference calls work, too. You might also consider setting up a short check-in regularly with your core team for catching up — and checking in to see how everyone is coping. Organizational social networking tools are another great way to share personal stories and updates such as home office set-ups, great new reads, relaxation resources and exercise routines, and even recipes. These kinds of interactions can help teams stay genuinely connected; they can also prove effective for new hires who are hoping to create relationships with their new, but often distant, colleagues.
4. Reevaluate Your Diversity And Inclusion Efforts
Always be on the lookout for opportunities to increase cultural diversity within your organization by prioritizing diversity-focused recruiting. Also make it easy for all employees to take advantage of training and events that assist in their personal and professional growth, including unconscious bias training.
If you don’t already, I strongly suggest leaders create an enterprisewide set of programs to promote diversity and inclusion, especially ways to help your team members embrace differences and appreciate the unique contributions that each person brings to work. One way to do this is partnering with external organizations that promote the interests of underrepresented populations. Many of these groups conduct diversity-related events, including diversity career fairs, conferences and workshops. Also consider small events at your workplace that allow employees to share their stories and experiences.
5. Don’t ‘Set It And Forget It’
As mentioned earlier, corporate culture should be treated like a living thing — and thus, never be left to stagnate. You’ll want to keep talking about it with your employees and leave the door open to evolving the company’s core values and purpose as needed. As your business continues to navigate change and uncertainty, you may find you have to do this regularly. While it sounds like a lot of work, the rewards are well worth it. You’ll create and maintain an inclusive culture that not only keeps employees motivated and engaged, but also, helps the company stay agile for the future.
Many companies were trying to reinvent their culture before the pandemic — partly to attract talent, but also, to drive innovation and future-proof the business. Kevin Martin, chief research officer at the Institute for Corporate Productivity, wrote in a February 2020 article for FT.com that the “continuous disruption” that had become the new normal for business (then) demanded that companies “constantly develop their strategies, business models and market position.” He asserted that “significant change to any of these will require a corresponding evolution in corporate culture.”
Granted, the business and seminal societal disruptions companies and their workers are experiencing now is far more consequential than much of the digital or other types of change they faced before. But the point is, successful companies understand that their organizational culture must continually evolve in response to change.